I’ve been taking my first steps with Smartthings over the past few months. I am nearly at the point where I have everything I want for the granny annex we have set up. What I still need is two switches. I very much prefer that they integrate directly with Smartthings. Other than that, I don’t care what they are - Z-Wave, Zigbee, whatever.
However, they have to be fairly smart black and they have to be battery operated. And everywhere I look, almost everything is white!
Oops. I just noticed you want battery operated. Give me a second.
There’s good news and bad news in that there really are very few battery operated switches that can be actuated (turned on or off) from a home automation system, because these devices are not always listening for the next command. Instead, they themselves are only “actuators.” When they are switched on manually, they send a radio signal, which can then be used to trigger other events on the network. The good news is that this makes the integration simpler since you only have to be able to respond to someone turning on the switch.
So your best bet is to wait a few months for matter at which point the several different brands that make “friends of hue“ switches should be able to work with smartthings as long as you also have a hue bridge. Many of these come in black or gray. Senic, Niko, Gira, and a couple of other brands all have these in both single and double gang.
I like retrotouch, but as I’ve mentioned before, I am drawn to black and silver switches. Shiny!
These switches are also cool because they aren’t wired in but they also don’t use batteries. They capture a very small amount of kinetic energy from the physical push on the switch and use that. That’s why you need the hue Bridge: smartthings hubs can’t read those messages. But it means you never have to worry about the battery going dead – – they don’t have one.
They already work with both HomeKit and Amazon Alexa routines, so if you want something for today, you have three choices:
just use them as a parallel means of control and have smartthings directly control whatever the smart lamp is that you are turning on with them. That’s a popular method. The switch itself won’t show up in smartthings, but that doesn’t really matter for this purpose.
these switches do now show up as an available trigger for an Alexa routine (not a smartthings routine) so if you want, you can proxy them that way. This gives you the ability to control devices that are connected to your hue bridge: just have the Alexa routine turn on a virtual device in smartthings, and from there, you can do anything smartthings can do, including scenes.
Eventually matter will simplify this whole process, because the switches themselves should show up in smartthings at least as “remotes”. But it is possible to do it now with Alexa routines as an intermediary.
It’s also quite likely that we will see a bunch of new battery operated devices that work with matter, so those would work in the same way, but you wouldn’t need a hue bridge for them. But they aren’t here yet.
or use them with HomeKit and then use homebridge to also bring in your smartthings devices. But at this point, I would wait for matter if you don’t already have homebridge set up.
So you can buy friends of hue switches or you can wait for new options once matter is widely deployed.
Another alternative that some people use is to take a contact sensor that works with smartthings and wire it to any dumb refractive faceplate that you like. Just don’t put the battery part inside the wall, that’s a violation of fire code in most places. (Because batteries outgas, you’re only supposed to use devices designed to be put inside a wall.) it works, it just takes some maker skills.
(oh, and I personally recommend not buying Tuya devices, which is anything that uses the smart life app, unless you are going to be using them with a tuya hub. Tuya uses a lot of proprietary code, and they can be a bear to integrate. But there are some people using them because they are so inexpensive, and you already linked to one, so I just mention the issue. These are sold under many different brand names, including Moes, yagusmart, orvibo, etc, but they will all work with the smartlife app, and many will also include the tuya logo in their product description.)
Thanks very much for the helpful and comprehensive reply. It is such a shame that nobody is really making Zigbee or Z-Wave switches that just connect as they should do in anything but white.
But moving on, I was well aware of the bad news, so no issues there. In summary, I might put together a scene in Google Home that can be activated by voice and use that until Matter switches become more widely available. I do like Hue devices, but they are always a lot more expensive than the competition. But at least they work!.
The issues with Tuya are basically the reason why I started this thread. It’s a shame how it is Tuya-based devices that show more originality in design, but are not 100% compatible with Zigbee.
I will have a look at those ones you recommended in the meantime.
They do meet the independent third party standard, but that’s because the Zigbee 3.0 standard allows individual device manufacturers to use “manufacturer proprietary” clusters, which then mean the devices can be hard to use with other companies’ hubs.
Matter will be different, though. Interoperability is one of its key tenets, so they are not providing the same option in the same way. Base functionality has to work the same for every Matter-certified device: on/off/dim. But manufacturers can still provide unique advanced features like child lock or adjustable ramp rates that will only work with their own platform.
That will be better for customers than Zigbee, where manufacturer-proprietary code support might be needed even to turn the device on. At least the endpoints.
If you can wait a few months, Tuya is planning to add Matter support to a few of their hubs AND to make at least one of their hubs a “matter bridge.” That means it would work like HomeKit in or hue out: you would add the Tuya devices to their own hub and then add that hub to your SmartThings account via Matter. It wouldn’t support all devices or all features, but setup should be easy and no custom code required. So if you like the Tuya devices, that would be an easy way to use them.
SMARTTHINGS AND MATTER: ONE WAY IN
BTW, SmartThings does NOT plan to make its hubs a “matter bridge,” so its matter integration will be one way in. You won’t be able to add a SmartThings/Aeotec hub with its attached devices to other Matter-certified apps. But you should have more devices to choose from to add to the ST app.
You can read more about Matter in the following thread:
most manufacturers for the UK market solve the aesthetic choice issue by providing zwave modules that can be placed inside the wall for mains powered devices, or that have interchangeable cases for batterypowered devices, and then you can easily swap colours.
For mains powered options, the Aeotec nano zwave line works well with SmartThings and you can use any refractive (momentary) dumb face plate you like, so lots of decorating options.
But you didn’t want mainspowered.
And now we run into a SmartThings-specific issue.
For years several zwave manufacturers in Europe have offered multi button battery powered actuators that have changeable faceplates.
As one community developer put it several years ago put it:
The problem is SmartThings doesn’t provide official feature support for the zwave command sets needed to make these work. So the community developer ended up having to write both a groovy DTH and a groovy smartapp, both of which are obsolete with the new architecture. And it’s unlikely there will ever be a replacement.
These devices work just fine with pretty much every other certified zwave hub out there, but SmartThings’ insistence on using its own unique overlay architecture makes them unavailable to SmartThings customers now, which is why I didn’t mention them before.
So Tuya isn’t the only company using manufacturer-proprietary code. Just sayin’…
I have made myself reasonably aware of the various aspects of Matter, and it is a shame that Smartthings is only one-way. I think that might come back to bite them in the medium term. Conversely, I think Tuya making their hub a Matter bridge could be exceedingly beneficial for them as it should remove a big barrier to use for those who just want it to work without special workarounds. I wasn’t aware of that development, so I will definitely wait for that. While I have no particular inclination towards Tuya, many devices based on their technology do seem to do what I want them to in a design that I want.
I think the explanation on design is that mains-powered devices seem to be treated like light switches whereas battery-powered ones are treated as technology rather than decor. Like a Tesla, technologically advanced but looks like a squashed frog!
“we will just have to wait and see what actually gets delivered.”
Indeed. Many thanks for the insights and the help. I think waiting is the best answer and I am sure I can set up an alternative until then.